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Fields of False Dreams: Scotts Joins Forces With Major League Baseball

Dave Mellor, head groundskeeper for the Boston Red Sox

Dave Mellor, head groundskeeper for the Boston Red Sox

Having survived two of its most tumultuous years in its history, the Scott Miracle Gro company enters 2010 swinging for the fences with a new deal with Major League Baseball. In an effort to convince consumers that aspiring to a Fenway front lawn is a good thing, the world’s largest lawn care fertilizer and pesticide distributor announced plans to pump tens of millions of dollars into a marketing partnership with the most iconic teams in baseball.

“I don’t mean to get ‘Field of Dreams’-ish, but it’s a powerful emotion for consumers and really tapping into that emotion and showing off what Scotts products can do, there’s no better product showcase,” Scotts Brand Manager John Price told Reuters. Here is the full press release: http://uk.reuters.com/article/idUKN2013380720100120.

The whole thing makes me cringe. Two years ago I interviewed a former groundskeeper for the Boston Red Sox, who was by then working for an organic lawn care company. He talked about the excessive amount of fungicides applied to that field to keep it emerald green in all types of weather and playing conditions. He said he was frequently “mortified” when players would come onto the field to practice, often times only minutes after a toxic product had been applied.

I have also spent time with Dave Mellor, the head groundskeeper of the Red Sox. He was a fine, gracious person and is still known as one of the best in his business. A couple of best-selling books are testament to his knowledge. But even he told me: “Homeowners need to understand that having a lawn that looks like Fenway Park in their own back yard is not a realistic expectation.”

At a time when sponsorship dollars are flat, however, Scotts’ money was just too tempting for Major League Baseball and Mellor to pass up. As co-author of a Scotts lawn book, he’ll no doubt be one of the poster boys for this new partnership.

Honestly, I don’t know how Dave Mellor sleeps at night. In his heart, he knows better.

About The Author

Paul Tukey

An international leader of the green movement, Mr. Tukey is a journalist, author, filmmaker, TV host, activist and award-winning public speaker, who is widely recognized as North America's leading advocate for landscape sustainability and toxic pesticide reduction strategies.

Number of Entries : 1023
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  • exgroundskeeper

    one thought – “toxic” fungicides and the like would NEVER be sprayed right before the players took the field – anything toxic enough for the players would be all the more toxic for the groundskeeper, and we’re not going to hurt ourselves much less risk hurting a MILLION DOLLAR A YEAR player. Also, only the HEAD Groundskeeper and his Assistant have BS and MS degrees in agronomy, the rest of the groundskeeping staff are just normal guys – not experts – you don’t say which level of staff you spoke with, but I know Dave Mellor in Boston has been there for, what, at least seven years?? Its a shame to see such a low blow to make within an otherwise EXCELLENT thought. I really hate to see emotion being dragged in when it needn’t be because the rest of the argument is so valid and well thought out. Here, if you need more kindling, try this one out: I’m still trying to figure out how Scott’s (a seed company) convinces all the other seed companies who own the rights to the multitude of varieties on all the different MLB fields to give those rights to a competitor. Nevermind that the deal is with MLB and NOT the Groundskeepers – so they have no say in what is actually going in to the bag…Also, what do you want to bet they’re not being compensated for their “endorsement?”

    • Paul Tukey

      I stand by the interview with the former groundskeeper, who worked at Fenway Park prior to Dave Mellor’s tenure as the top guy. I cannot name the groundskeeper out of his desire to remain anonymous. He fears being chastised by the industry and if i read any emotion into your all caps, I’m guessing his fear would be justified. This individual does have an advanced degree in agronomy.

      It’s difficult not to get emotional about this issue, I admit. I’ve spent time with several groundskeepers and, in their heart of hearts, they call know its not reasonable for a homeowner to have a lawn that looks like Fenway. The environmental community is going to raise some hell with this in the coming months. I honestly hope Scotts lives to regret this decision.

      • Turfie

        I totally related to the groundskeeper who was mortified to let players practice in a freshly sprayed field. I worked on a golf course for years and we would frequently spray fungicides on a fairway or green with golfers right behind us. There simply wasn’t time to spray and keep people off the turf for the necessary amount of time. This happens all the time unfortunately. I am currently trying to make up for the sins of the past by working organic whenever I can.

    • Goneorganic

      Give me a break. If you know anything about re-entry protocols for many of these fungicides and pesticides, you know that there simply isn’t enough time in many cases to let the fields stand long enough before the players or golfers re-enter. To suggest that this NEVER happens is ludicrous. We are putting professional baseball players at risk all the time.

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  • http://n/a GreenThumb

    Its too bad guys like you Tukey cant get past your own political biases and report science and fact. Please provide any supporting evidence that the field that these guys are stepping out on to are dangerous. Maybe become an agronomist and then refute what the head groundskeeper is doing.

    • Paul Tukey

      Mr. GreenThumb,
      As a journalist first and a professional landscape contractor second during my career, my first inclination is to report the news. We have hundreds of examples of peer reviewed studies that show pesticide — and fertilizer — products to be dangerous and various ways. And each and every time we report on these studies, the chemical industry responds the same way my teenager does . . . with a “Yeah, but . . . ” It doesn’t matter how many studies come out, guys like you are going to believe what you want to believe — just like I believe what I believe. Where’s the science that shows these products are safe? It’s not out there; it doesn’t exist. And, in fact, it’s illegal to say a pesticide is safe.

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